Hi guys, we have Zane Riley popping in today with his new release With or Without You, we have a great guest post, a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway, so check out the post and click that giveaway link <3 ~Pixie~
With or Without You
In the much-anticipated sequel to Go Your Own Way, high school seniors Lennox McAvoy and Will Osborne pick up right where they left off—navigating the tumultuous waters of a new relationship and dealing with Will’s disapproving father.
When a violent incident forces Lennox to give up his independent ways, he must come to terms with his past just as Will is grappling with his future. As Will’s college plans become reality, will Lennox have the courage to go after the opportunities he doesn’t think he deserves?
Today I’m very lucky to have Zane Riley author of With or Without You stop by today.
Hi Zane, thank you for agreeing to this visit us. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! I’m Zane, and I’m a queer transgender writer from northern Virginia. Currently, I’m in the process of packing up to move to Washington state, so I’m pretty busy at the moment, but also very excited. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, although I didn’t get truly serious about it until college when I switched my major to Creative Writing.
With or Without You is my second novel and a sequel to my first. It continues Will and Lennox’s story as they finish up their senior year of high school. As they begin to learn how to navigate their growing relationship, Will plans for his future in college while Lennox struggles to accept that his future is more than surviving until the next day. They each begin to forge their own paths only to realize that the futures they each want may lead them away from each other.
Give us an excerpt from your work in progress or latest book.
This is an excerpt from a story I’ve been working on lately. It’s about a teenage boy named Javier. He usually goes by Javi. He’s a transgender boy with sound-to-color synesthesia, also called chromesthesia, who’s trying to navigate life after his brother’s death and his tumultuous relationship with his parents. Chromesthesia essentially means when he hears a sound, it automatically invokes the experience of color for him. So for instance if he hears a cat meow he will see red swirls or if a dog barks he might see cerulean. Every sound evokes some sort of visual color for him.
This is my last night with the stars. Ma’s absence should be charcoal, but it’s a vibrant magenta resting around my shoulders. Dad’s found more bottles probably. Or maybe something worse. If Ma’s right he’s not far off, but he’s not in sight of the camp. Only cranky Albert is there and even half a mile off, at the crystallized edge of the power plant fences, I can hear the earthquake in his snores.
I make my way along the fences topped with metal spirals toward the water. The ground squelches underfoot, dotting my vision with pale green ribbons. They’re like fingerprints across the fading sky. Every step makes another burst before me. This has always been one of my favorite sounds. For the first few weeks it was the only thing that made living out here between the estuaries and concrete bridges bearable.
After a few laps while the moon rises, I find my dry spot along the wood’s edge. Big chunks of cement washed ashore here and even at high tide they’re always dry. This is where Dad first showed me the constellations. If he’s anywhere close enough to be here, this is the spot he’d choose. I settle in for the evening, my backpack at my side, and a notebook on my lap.
I flip through all the filled pages. Every night I’ve stayed up while Ma and Dad argued or slept and tried to capture the majesty of a sky that alters itself every day and night. Some pages are shards of purple and lemon, others have stars like gems exploding across a full spread. Tonight it’s clear out, even the dim halo of Baltimore isn’t enough to hide the night sky’s freckles. These stars are cigarettes. Magnetic little spitballs hanging from giant’s fingertips, splattering the sky with ash and dust.
It’s Izzy. One of Dad’s “drinking buds” as Ma says. Izzy doesn’t drink, but she does tend to sit around with needles in the crooks of her elbows while Dad finds his buzz.
“Hey, you seen Dad today?”
Izzy’s a scar of burgundy smeared all over the landscape. She’s frail and slowly morphing her face into a cartoonish vulture, complete with needle feather wings. One feather flashes before my eyes before she raises it to her eyes and flicks the syringe.
“He didn’t turn in today. You want some?”
I shake my head and keep an eye on her feathers and shivering limbs until she’s back in the little clump of tents. She tried to stick a feather in me once and Ma ripped a chunk of her hair out. Dad won’t be around tonight. The solitude of the evening is as gentle as the water lapping at the cement block I’m sitting on. Maybe tomorrow. One of these evenings he’ll cross my path again.
The band room was empty when he pushed the door open, but the piano was set up like it was almost every afternoon these days. Only Mr. Robinette and a music stand littered with sheet music was absent.
The silence struck Lennox as odd, but as he sat down he also realized how strange it was to announce himself. So much had changed since the first time he’d snuck in here to play on his own. Now he was auditioning for some college he still couldn’t fathom.
To make Will happy. And maybe a little bit for himself.
“Ah, I wondered if you were going to show up.”
Mr. Robinette was behind him, the door to his office now wide open. He’d taken off his tie and undone a few buttons on his shirt like he did most afternoons when they practiced.
“You just want to play it through a few times or mess around with something else?”
Lennox took a seat at the piano, but didn’t both opening his bag. He’d memorized the piece he was playing by Valentine’s Day and now, almost two weeks later, he could write it out measure for measure on blank sheet music. But playing it was becoming repetitive. For two hours, three times a week, almost nonstop with the same four pages and nothing else.
“I’d rather try something new. That piece is getting a little old.”
Mr. Robinette smiled and pulled a chair up beside him. “I had a nightmare the other night and it was the theme song while I ran around a haunted house Scooby Doo style.”
“You didn’t catch a ride in the Mystery Machine, did you? I’ve always wanted that van.”
“I’ve got a lunch box version of it. It doesn’t fit much though because it’s too narrow. Anyway, play what you want. I’ll be here until about four-thirty, so it’s all yours.”
As Mr. Robinette returned to his office, Lennox pulled what had become his music notebook out of his bag and opened it to the latest page. He’d taken to composing during class when he should have been taking notes, especially calculus where he had no reason to pay attention anyway.
The latest page was a tune he’d come up with while the other kids had been tapping their pencils and erasing answers. Every moment of his life carried a rhythm, a melody, and an emotion he could create with, and his notebook was becoming a testament to that. He played through everything he’d jotted down over the past few days, but after several rounds he kept coming back to one. It was a piano version he’d tried—and mostly failed—to create of one of the songs Will had played on a loop a few weeks ago.
“I’m getting ready to lock up!”
Mr. Robinette’s voice carried out of the office and into the band room. A few minutes and several jingles of Mr. Robinette’s keys later, the office door was shut and Lennox was closing the cover on the keys.
“That last piece you were playing, was it a cover?”
Lennox shrugged as they headed for the door.
“It was supposed to be. Didn’t sound much like the song.”
“Well, the others did. They were all really good, even the ones that weren’t covers.”
Lennox watched him at the door to the parking lot for a moment. He’d been a great help over the last month—all year if Lennox was honest. Mr. Robinette had believed in him in his own way since school had begun, and thanks to him he had a decent shot at this audition.
“Thanks for… all of this. I actually feel like—just thanks.”
Mr. Robinette gave him a genuine smile and patted him on the shoulder.
“You’re very welcome. Let me know how it goes when you get back, okay? I’m rooting for you. Got all of my fingers and limbs crossed. You deserve the chance. Don’t doubt that or yourself.”
It was funny to have so many people believing in him after so long. Happiness was a strange feeling as well. Until he’d let Will into his life he couldn’t remember how to capture such a feeling in his chest and keep it there.
Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the internet. His first novel, Go Your Own Way, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
Where to find the author: